Stiff neck often occurs when we sleep in an awkward position, when we improperly carry a heavy load that strains our shoulders, when we work with our computers for long periods without breaks, or when we strain our neck or shoulder muscles due to bad posture.
Other common causes of stiff neck include; injury or trauma to the neck, stress or anxiety, and certain diseases such as cancer, meningitis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Common symptoms of a stiff neck include; pain, soreness, and difficulty in turning our neck especially to the sides. Other secondary symptoms of stiff neck include; arm pain, shoulder pain, and headache.
A stiff neck does not usually indicate a serious problem and often subsides on its own after some days. However, the severity or intensity of the neck pain could disrupt you from effectively carrying out your daily activities.
Here are some tips and good practices, to consider, when dealing with a stiff neck;
- Ensure you get enough sleep at night as this would hasten the recovery process.
- Avoid sleeping on your stomach. Instead, sleep on your side or back.
- You could try to sleep without a pillow for a couple of nights and see if there is a difference.
- Ensure your mattress is firm enough to support your neck and spine. Opt for a mattress that is not too strong or too soft.
- Endeavor to maintain a good posture all day long.
- If you are obese or overweight, strive to lose the excess fat as having excess fat tends to put extra strain on body muscles.
- If you work on a desk for long hours, especially with a computer, strive to take short breaks every hour.
- Stop the bad habit of crimping your phone between your neck and your should when trying to multitask.
- As emotional stress could trigger muscle pain, strive to avoid stress and stressful situations. You could opt for yoga, meditation, or deep breathing to help control stress.
Below are home remedies and natural treatments for a stiff neck;
1. Neck Exercises
A stiff neck is often caused by strain in the neck muscles, which can be easily relieved by doing some simple neck exercises. Sit straight on a chair with a relaxed body. Start by slowly nodding your head up and down. Repeat this motion a few times. Then, keeping your body straight, tilt your head alternatively towards your right and left shoulder. Make sure you maintain a slow motion to avoid any additional stress. Repeat this movement a few times. Finally, roll your shoulder while keeping your head straight and repeat this step for some minutes. This would loosen the tight muscles and relieve the stiffness. However, if the exercise is causing more pain, avoid doing it.
A relaxing massage is one of the best ways to treat a stiff neck in a gentle way. It improves blood circulation to the neck region and induces a faster healing. It also relaxes the muscles and helps you to sleep better. Start by taking a hot shower to soothe the stiff muscles. Take some olive oil in a bowl and warm it slightly. Then, apply the oil to the entire neck region using your fingertips and massage in gentle and circular motion for some minutes. Do this remedy several times until you find some relief from the pain.
3. Peppermint Oil
The presence of menthol in peppermint oil is known to have a relaxing action on the inflamed muscles. Peppermint has a great pain reducing ability which promotes healing and provides relief from a stiff neck.
For this remedy, take some olive oil in a bowl and put it in a microwave for some seconds to warm it. Then, add some drops of peppermint oil in it and mix well. Apply the warm oil to the affected area and massage gently. Repeat this remedy two times daily to obtain positive results.
Another way to use peppermint oil is to add it to a bowl filled with cold water. Dip a clean washcloth in it and wring out the excess water. Now apply it to the aching spot for 12-15 minutes to get rid of the pain. If you have a sensitive skin, avoid using peppermint oil. This remedy is not recommended for small children.
4. Epsom Salt
Fill warm water in a bathtub and put Epsom salt (2 cups) in it. Let it dissolve completely and enjoy the relaxing bath for 18-20 minutes. Doing this thrice every week will treat neck stiffness and reduce the pain significantly. Epsom salt not only improves blood circulation in the body but Epsom salt is made up of magnesium sulfate which can help ease stiff neck. If you are diabetic or have kidney problems, avoid using this remedy.
It is important to reduce stress if you have muscle stiffness. Any additional jerk can worsen your condition. If possible, take rest to allow the body to heal the condition in a natural way. For this, find a peaceful corner of your house and lie down with your eyes closed. Make sure there is no disturbance and you feel totally comfortable in the place. Minimize the light and try to relax your entire body. Other relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, and meditation may also reduce stress from muscles in your neck and make you feel lighter.
6. Apple Cider Vinegar
Having high anti-inflammatory attributes, apple cider vinegar is often used to treat pain and swelling in different parts of the body efficiently. It also contains antioxidants that checks free radicals in the body and helps in eliminating stress while promoting healing. For this remedy, add some ACV to your warm water bathtub and soak in for 12-15 minutes. Do this once every day to relieve the pain. Alternatively, soak a clean cloth in diluted ACV and apply it directly to the affected area. Let it stay for 10-20 minutes to work effectively.
7. Lavender Oil
Lavender has a healing action on the body and is widely used to treat numerous health conditions including a stiff neck. It can ease the tight neck muscles and reduce the pain. Take some lavender oil in a bowl and warm it. Dip your fingertips in it and apply it to the area of stiffness. Massage until the oil gets absorbed by the skin. Repeat this remedy on a regular basis for several days to find relief from the pain.
8. Cold Therapy
A cold therapy can be as effective as any other remedy in easing neck pain naturally. It works by gently numbing the area for some time to alleviate pain and swelling. It also stops the lactic acid buildup which is released by the muscle metabolism. Take some ice cubes wrapped in a towel and place it on the painful and sore area for 12-15 minutes. Repeat it after every 2 hours and perform this remedy for the first 48 hours of experiencing the symptoms.
9. Heat Therapy
Heat therapy can be applied after 48 hours of the onset of the pain if the cold therapy does not provide adequate relief. A warm compress could stimulate blood flow to the affected area and reduce stiffness in the adjoining muscles. For this remedy, use a hot water bottle, heating pad or a heat wrap, for 10 minutes, to apply heat to the neck area. Repeat this process 3-4 times in a day until there is some relief. You may also take a hot shower for 4-5 minutes to improve blood flow and relax the stiff muscles.
10. Posture Correction
Maintaining a good posture will not only help in preventing a stiff neck but also heal it faster. To correct your posture. Stand tall with your back leaned against a wall. Place your heels a few inches away from the wall and let your buttocks and shoulder touch the wall. Place your head near to the wall with your chin straight. Do this postural exercise every day and check if your posture has improved. Keep performing these step until you have a straight and comfortable posture to reduce stress on your neck and back areas.
A cream containing Boswellia extract may alleviate the pain associated with a stiff neck. Apply it to the affected area every few hours. Alternatively, take 150 mg of a supplement of boswellic acid 3 times in a day after talking with your doctor. Boswellia has natural pain relieving abilities that may treat the condition effectively.
Ginger is readily available in almost every pantry and may work effectively in treating the neck inflammation in a great way. Prepare some ginger tea and consume it a few times throughout the day to reduce soreness and pain from the affected area. Ginger is also great for treating arthritis as well as other health conditions such as upset stomach, nausea, bronchitis and even menstrual pain.
13. Skin Scraping
Scraping your skin with the help of a metal spoon may relieve the swelling and pain caused by stiff muscles. Use one person and apply some massage oil in the affected area. Then, use another spoon to scrape the skin. This would help in improving the circulation of the blood in the affected area and promote healing. It would also aid in reducing pain significantly. Avoid performing this remedy if the scraping causes more pain.
Camphor is a great remedy for improving the blood flow to the area. It also relieves swelling effectively. When combined with menthol, it works quite well by providing a cooling sensation to the affected area. For this remedy, take any cream, ointment, or gel that contains camphor and menthol and rub it on the neck region. Do this once every day for many days until there is a significant improvement.
15. Devil’s Claw
A daily supplement of devil’s claw has a great potential to treat a stiff neck. Devil’s claw has a powerful anti-inflammatory action which quickly reduces pain as well as swelling from the area. Make sure to check with your physician to understand its suitability and get knowledge of the right doses.
16. Homemade Balm
A homemade analgesic balm made out of readily available ingredients may help in relieving pain in an excellent way. Start by melting some coconut oil along with beeswax and add some drops of peppermint oil. Also, add some eucalyptus oil and stir well to mix all the ingredients. Let it cool on its own and apply it to the affected area. Store this balm in an airtight container and you may use it later.
Turmeric has natural compounds, such as curcumin, that offer anti-inflammatory effects. Therefore, it may help in reducing the soreness of the muscles effectively. For this remedy, fill a cup with milk and add 1 tsp of powdered turmeric. Mix well and add some honey. Drink this healing milk 2 times a day. You may also include turmeric in your cooking or simply take its supplements after talking with your doctor. If you have a bile duct obstruction or gallstones, avoid taking turmeric.
Horseradish has a high therapeutic value and may help in healing the stiff neck effectively. Take a little ground horseradish paste and apply it to the neck region. Let it stay for a few minutes and wipe it off thereafter. Keeping it for too long may cause numbness or a burning sensation. However, in most cases, this is tolerable.
19. Cayenne Pepper
The capsaicin, present in cayenne pepper, has analgesic properties which aid in reducing pain and discomfort. Warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add 1 tsp of powdered cayenne pepper. Apply this mixture on the painful area and put a bandage over it. Let it stay for some hours and do this remedy once every day for a few days.
20. Celery Leaves
Surprisingly, celery leaves may help in relieving the pain and soreness associated with a stiff neck. Extract its juice and consume it on a regular basis until there is some relief from the pain.
Herbs such as St. John’s Wort, valerian root, and vervain tea may have a positive effect in reducing muscle pain and soreness. Take some water in a pot and boil these herbs. Then, wrap them in a pillowcase or washcloth and apply, as a warm compress, to the affected area. Apply the warmth to the affected area of the neck and shoulder while reaping the benefits of the healing compounds present in the herbs.
An acupoint, named Luo Zhen, can be pressed to release the pain in the neck muscles, thereby relieving the stiffness. This point is present in the back of your hand in the depression created near to the pointer and the middle finger knuckles. Massaging this point with a light pressure may produce beneficial results. You could also use the Houxi (SI 3) acupoint to relieve neck pain caused by a stiff neck. You may also consult a professional practitioner for assistance.
Magnesium helps in boosting the immunity and relieves a stiff neck effectively. You may take a supplement of magnesium after discussing it with your doctor to treat the symptoms effectively.
24. Chamomile Tea
Used bags of chamomile tea can be applied on the stiff neck to ease the muscle pain. Chamomile contains natural compounds that have a relaxing effect on the body. It would also provide warmth to the area increasing the blood flow and promoting healing. Take some used tea bags and apply it when it is still warm enough to provide relief.
25. Ashwagandha Root
Ashwagandha has been used for ages in Ayurveda to deal with several health conditions. It could have a healing effect on your sore muscles too. Simply take its supplement on a regular basis until you significantly get rid of the pain, swelling, and discomfort.
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